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The Juno Cabinet

  • Object:

    Cabinet

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1878 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Talbert, Bruce James, born 1838 - died 1881 (designer)
    Jackson & Graham (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ebony, inlaid with boxwood, myrtle, mother-of-pearl and ivory, with bevelled mirrored glass panels and cast and chased bronze mounts

  • Museum number:

    W.18:1 to 6-1981

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 122g, case 12

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Object Type
Designers and manufacturers used their furniture shown at International Exhibitions to illustrate their skills in design. Such pieces combined exotic materials, such as mother-of-pearl and ivory, and excellent construction. This cabinet is typical of such exhibition furniture.

People
Bruce J. Talbert (1838-1881) was a successful commercial designer of metalwork, stained glass, wallpapers, textiles and furniture. He also published two books of designs for furniture, one of Gothic ideas in 1867, and another of Jacobean designs in 1867. The firm of Jackson & Graham, which made this cabinet, was established by Thomas Jackson and Peter Graham at 37 Oxford Street, London, in 1836. They expanded rapidly and their premises included both workshops and retail showrooms. The firm specialised in high quality furniture, using luxurious materials as seen in this cabinet.

Historical Associations
The International Exhibition held in Paris in 1878 offered Jackson & Graham the opportunity to display their finest products to a continental audience. and the firm won the Grand Prix d'Honneur for the British Section of the exhibition. The cabinet was bought by the Khedive of Egypt (the viceroy of Egypt during Turkish rule from 1867 to 1914) for £2,000.

Physical description

Cabinet veneered in ebony with marquetry panels employing exotic woods, ivory and mother of pearl.
[Cabinet] The upper section of the cabinet consists of two main horizontal courses surmounted by a pediment. The upper course has five square marquetry panels, depicting the three Greek goddesses (or their Roman equivalents) who were judged by Paris, separated by scenes of fish swimming in the sea and the moon shining on Northern Europe. These square panels are divided by narrow arched panels decorated with marquetry peacock feathers. The bird itself, Juno's symbol, occupies the central panel in the pediment. The lower horizontal course combines three mirrored sections with recessed cupboards, on whose surfaces the narrative of the Judgement of Paris and its consequences is sketched out. On the right the winner's crown is flanked by the apple inscribed 'Detur pulchriori', and on the left a ship flanked by olives represnts the Greeks departing to avenge Helen's abduction to Troy, leading to the Trojan War.
[Cabinet] The lower section of the cabinet divides into three principal sections. In the centre section, two doors enclose the inner space which has a central, sliding removable shelf and a fixed shelf level to either side. The doors fasten with two sliding bolts on the left side, and a lock on the right. In the right and left main sections of the lower part of the cabinet the space is divided horizontally by shelves, on top of which are small lockable cupboards. Above these small cupboards are drawers, which are pulled out by means of turned rails.
The surface decoration consists of similar pattern, stringing and marquetry as on the upper section of the cabinet, with two fine vignettes of symmetrical lilies on the central cupboard doors.
[Drawer] Left hand drawer, the front face veneered in ebony with ivory inlay in the form of arcading; below a horizontal rail
[Drawer] Right hand drawer, the front face veneered in ebony with ivory inlay in the form of arcading; below a horizontal rail
[Shelf] Internal removable sliding shelf.

Place of Origin

London, England (probably, made)

Date

1878 (made)

Artist/maker

Talbert, Bruce James, born 1838 - died 1881 (designer)
Jackson & Graham (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Ebony, inlaid with boxwood, myrtle, mother-of-pearl and ivory, with bevelled mirrored glass panels and cast and chased bronze mounts

Marks and inscriptions

[Cabinet] 'DETUR PULCHRIORI' Let it be given to the most beautiful
[Cabinet] '795[00] / Chubbs Patent 128 Queen Victoria Street / Chubbs [design of a fish]'
[Cabinet] '79583 / Chubb's Patent 128 Queen Victoria Street / Chubbs [design of a fish]'
[Cabinet] '79584 / Chubbs Patent 128 Queen Victoria Street / Chubbs [design of a fish]'
[Cabinet] '797072 / Chubbs Patent 128 Queen Victoria Street / Chubbs [design of a fish]'
[Cabinet] '797073 / Chubbs Patent 128 Queen Victoria Street / Chubbs [design of a fish]'

Dimensions

Height: 233.5 cm, Width: 212 cm, Depth: 54 cm
[Cabinet] Height: 149 cm top of central pediment to bottom of upper section, Width: 198 cm, Depth: 20 cm
[Cabinet] Height: 85 cm, Width: 206 cm maximum, Depth: 54 cm
[Drawer] Depth: 47.5 cm, Height: 12.5 cm including horizontal rail, Height: 7 cm not including horizontal rail, Width: 51 cm
[Drawer] Height: 12.5 cm including horizontal rail, Height: 7 cm not including horizontal rail, Depth: 47.5 cm, Width: 51 cm
[Shelf] Depth: 24.5 cm, Height: 1.06 cm, Width: 78 cm

Object history note

This cabinet was shown by Jackson and Graham as the "Juno Cabinet" at the Paris International Exhibition of 1878, where it won the Grand Prix d'Honneur for the British Section and was purchased by the Khedive of Egypt (the viceroy of Egypt during Turkish rule from 1867 to 1914) for £2,000. The Khedive apparently commissioned a room en suite at a cost of £6,000, according to Talbert's obituary in a trade periodical, The Cabinet Maker, which also described the Juno cabinet as "showing the versatility of Talbert's genius, and his power to grasp Classicism with the same success as Gothic and Old English", The Cabinet Maker & Art Furnisher, vol. II, no.13, 1 July 1881, p.5.

Historical significance: The design for the Juno cabinet may have evolved from an earlier ebony and ivory cabinet illustrated in Talbert's second book, Examples of Ancient and Modern Furniture, Metal Work, Tapestries, Decorations &c.(London, 1876). This earlier cabinet was designed to match some Indo-portuguese chairs illustrated in Shaw's Ancient Furniture (London, 1836).

Descriptive line

Cabinet veneered in ebony with panels depicting the themes of the Judgement of Paris and the Trojan War in marquetry of exotic woods, ivory and mother of pearl. Designed by B.J. Talbert and made by Jackson and Graham. English, 1878.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Cabinet Maker & Art Furnisher. 1 July 1881. Vol. II, no.13. [Obituary]
(For other obituaries see also 1 February 1881, pp.121-22; 1 August 1881.)
Jervis, Simon. Charles, Bevan and Talbert. In: Susan M. Wright, ed. The Decorative Arts of the Victorian Period. London: Society of Antiquaries, 1989.
MacDonald, Sally. Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture: the early work of Bruce James Talbert. Furniture History. 1987. Vol. xxiii, pp.39-60.
'In 1878 [the year the Juno cabinet was made] Talbert had at least two years to live, and it is odd that little of his work can be firmly ascribed to this period; perhaps by then he was already an alcoholic.' p.41.
'As a market-conscious commercial designer, Talbert could afford no lasting attachment to the Gothic forms which had made his name.' p.46.
Talbert, Bruce James. Examples of Ancient and Modern Furniture, Metalwork, Tapestries, Decorations &c. London, 1876.
'It has been said that the revival of the so-called Queen Anne style, has arisen almost entirely from the predilection of certain Artists for the furniture of that period. Were this true, woodwork would have taken a very leading position and, so far as architecture is concerned, a false one.'
'The man who wishes to design well, must needs have a great knowledge of, and a great reverence for, the good work of the past ages, even though he may believe that their days are not ours, and that the giving of our best efforts to meet the present wants, if honestly done, will likely be correct.'

Exhibition History

The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900 (Victoria & Albert Museum 02/04/2011-17/07/2011)

Labels and date

CABINET
ENGLISH: 1878
Designed by B. J. Talbert (1838-1881)
Made by Jackson & Graham, London
Ebony inlaid with various woods and ivory

This cabinet was shown by Jackson and Graham as the "Juno Cabinet" at the Paris International Exhibition of 1878, where it won the Grand Prize and was bought by the Khedive of Egypt. Juno herself is depicted at the top of the cabinet with Venus and Minerva on either side. It was considered in 1878 to be the most important piece to have ever been designed by Talbert. [pre July 2001]

Production Note

Reason For Production: Exhibition

Materials

Bronze; Ivory; Mahogany; Mother of pearl; Ebony; Boxwood; Reflective glass; Myrtle

Techniques

Carving; Engraving (incising); Turning; Inlay (process); Marquetry; Bevelling

Subjects depicted

Fish; Venus; Sea; Ship; Minerva; Crowns (headdresses); Apple; Juno; Olives; Planet earth; Lilies (flowers); Heavens

Categories

Furniture; British Galleries

Production Type

Unique

Collection code

FWK

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Qr_O9156
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